DemLabs blog

Inform eligible felons about their right to vote
Image: "Just Mercy" (Warner Bros.)

People are prevented from voting in many ways. Not informing eligible felons about their right to vote is an especially cruel one.

Many states allow felons to vote while they are on probation or parole. Social workers helping educate felons about their voting rights struggle with the restriction that electronic devices are banned from prisons. They have to collect information from felons on paper and manually enter it into computers - a laborious, time consuming and error-prone process. Social workers are forced to spend time they could use to help more felons on data entry!

Organizers collecting hand-written 'Pledge To Vote' cards and volunteer sign-ups also struggle to quickly convert hand written forms to text.

Fast, free and simple

DemLabs researched different solutions to digitize handwriting that were affordable, easy to use and accurate. We chose Pen to Print, a free app that makes it easy to digitize handwriting. It handles both individual handwritten documents and large batches of forms. We took a picture of a handwritten form with the free version of Pen To Print to test it. It took just a few seconds to automatically scan the photo, digitize it and save the output as text. The app is available for free and as a premium version with more features for $9.99/year.

Pen to Print, a free app that makes it easy to digitize handwriting.

Resources on restoring voting rights

  • Restore Your Vote: Helps US citizens learn how they can restore their right to vote? Up to 18 million Americans with past convictions can vote – but they just don’t know it – because the felony disenfranchisement laws in every state can be confusing.
  • National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL): background information for former felons on how to restore their voting rights.
  • "The Sentencing Project: a nonprofit organization focuses on criminal justice reform that estimated that 6.1 million Americans had been barred from voting because of felony disenfranchisement laws. Experts say that disparities in sentencing can make felony voting laws inherently discriminatory against minorities and people with low incomes.” said Dr. Shannon (N.Y. Times)

Take Away:

Pen to Print lets organizers help more people exercise their right vote and mobilize volunteers. Use it!

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.